How to sustainably brew your own beer

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Written by Syna Smith

How to sustainably brew your own beer at home? At face value, home brewing is a great way for beer enthusiasts to do their bit to avert the climate crisis.

Research from Imperial College London has shown it has “negligible retail emissions, reduced energy requirements for the brewing process, and no artificial carbonation with CO2 gas”. 

It seems like a win-win, reducing both your carbon footprint and your actual footprints down the road to your local pub.

Not to mention — it tastes great, and it is a lot of fun getting to play Duffman at home. Yet, for those opting to brew their beer at home, this can incur more environmental impact than you may expect.

If you want to ensure that your next pint is as eco-friendly and economically sound as possible, here are the essentials for a more sustainable, efficient brewing process. 

1. The must-haves to sustainably brew your own beer

An eco-friendly home brewer should opt for kegging rather than bottling.
Not only does the latter result in a lot of wasted bottle caps it’s also time-consuming and inefficient. This is because more than a few bottles are required for each beer volume.

While reusing bottles can work around some wastage, kegging removes a lot of wasted material.

In terms of the best homebrew keg, you can opt for the kind of materials a micro-brewery or pub might use. Especially if you’re thinking of turning your home brewery into a side hustle.

For those just starting out who want something halfway between, a reusable swing-top should keep your brew nice and carbonated.

Petainer’s refillable growlers, for instance, are designed from 100% recyclable components and have special caps to increase carbon dioxide retention.

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2. Lose the extract kit

Making beer requires the four main ingredients of hops, yeast, barley and water.

Unprocessed, barley doesn’t taste much, but the natural sugars are extracted in the malting process, bringing its flavour to life.

When homebrewing, it has become a common starter practice to use malted barley extract.

However, unlike grains, this processed and concentrated option limits your overall control over your final brew, and by virtue of its pre-packaging, is directly related to litter pollution and overcrowded landfills. 

Instead of using pre-packaged malted barley, steep your barley grains in water instead.

This eliminates single-use plastic waste from the pre-packaged ‘malt-kit’ option.

Not only that, your beer will taste better if you make it the real way!

The folks at Team Home Brew argue that much of the natural flavour is lost during the manufacturing process of extract kits.

You would also do well to reuse your spent grains for garden soil or compost, plugging that delicious brew back into mother nature’s glory.

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3. Go local and organic to sustainably brew your beer

By choosing organic ingredients and processes, your brewing journey cuts out the conventional farming use of toxic fertilisers.

Yet you might be asking yourself, just how local can you go?

Despite Britain being a nation of beer enthusiasts, the only major hop-growing regions in the UK are Hereford, Worcester, and Kent.

Barley is a different story, however. It’s found nationwide, and you could even culture wild yeast by your own fair hands to make it truly sustainable.

And, if you’re truly committed, why not grow your own hops? This will reduce transportation and packaging for your supplier, although the process can take a long time.

If you don’t have the advantage of having a nearby hop farm in your region, not only do Brook House Hops have sustainability ingrained in its farming operation, but it also delivers nationwide. 

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4. Reuse wastewater

For decades, breweries operated on a water ratio of around seven to one, meaning that seven litres of water would yield 1 litre of beer.

However, as time and technology change, this ratio has fallen to around 4:1. Some breweries have even taken to brewing from using just reused wastewater, with apparently no impact on the taste at all.

But while you might not have the technology or mad scientist at hand to upcycle wastewater in your brew safely, there are many solutions to minimise waste during the process.

When it comes to cleaning your equipment, use a rainwater catchment system to reduce water runoff and conserve it for repurposing.

Just put an empty bin outside your downspouts and let it fill with rainwater, allowing it to clear over two weeks or so.

This can also be used for ice when it comes to chilling your product — but don’t put any cubes in your drink, as they will be filled with contaminants.

Written by Syna Smith.

This is a paid-for advertorial.

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Elena Daniilidou

Elena is an ethical vegan and minimalist advocating for sustainable and slow living.

View all posts by Elena Daniilidou →
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